Every once in a while, just like clockwork we are faced with government policies which defy logic and common sense. It appears that the people who come up with some of these policies live in utopia where they are far removed from the struggles of the common man. Simply put, the government bureaucrats have perfected the top down approach when it comes to management rather than seeking to listen to what the mwananchi wants and crafting policy to benefit them.
The ban on mitumba clothing is one such policy, and in as much as I would like to assume that I can from a good place, that is seeking to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus. It beats my understanding why the ban is still in place, yet it has already been proven that the virus cannot survive on clothing for more than 12 hours.
Since it appears that the powers that be do not comprehend the effect of the ban on the common man, let me break it down for them.
Loss of employment
The mitumba sector employs about 2,000,000 Kenyans directly and many more indirectly. Those who are directly employed by the sector include the mitumba traders who import the used clothes in bulk and distribute to retailers who then bring the clothes to the market. These individuals the employ the services of other Kenyans in the transport sector to transport the goods, they also employ fundis to repair or adjust the clothing before sale and others to clean and iron the same.
It is basically a long chain of individuals who have been benefiting from this sector and who have been rendered jobless due to the ban. One has to wonder how these people are expected to survive yet the economy is on its knee’s courtesy of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Take the case of Davie a mitumba trader who has had to lay off his workers due to the ban!! One can’t help but feel sorry for his workers who have been left jobless during a pandemic simply because someone does not want to do their job!! #MitumbaJobsAgony pic.twitter.com/djYaNKgTi9
— HapaKenya 🇰🇪 (@HapaKenya) August 12, 2020
Loss of dignity
Since mitumba came into this country in the 1980’s, it has afforded the common man dignity in that they are able to afford quality clothing. Growing up, our parents used to tell us how they went to school without shoes but still made it despite the challenges as a motivation for us to work hard. Well, a conversation that I saw on social media seems to suggest that the main reason that they didn’t have shoes is that there was no mtush bask then and their parents simply could not afford a new pair of shoes.
Essentially, a person who can’t afford to spend Ksh. 1,000 on a pair of new shoes will not automatically be able to afford them when the option of buying a second hand pair at say 300 bob is withdrawn. What will most likely happen is that the individual will continue wearing their old pair of shoes till they are torn and worn out. The same is likely to be replicated when it comes to clothing where wearing old clothes full of patches will now become a thing. I mean where is the dignity in that??
You are probably not old enough to remember poor people wearing rags. Mitumba has given the poor dignity, and created more jobs than the crony capitalist protectionism that Uhuru is trying to bring back would ever have created. https://t.co/BS5IvWGrJv
— David Ndii (@DavidNdii) August 12, 2020
Loss of taxes
We happen to be one of the most highly taxed countries in the world, which means that with every purchase that you make, you are most likely paying one tax or the other. When the mitumba bales arrive in the country, they are taxed. When the traders then move to sell the goods in the market place, there are fees to be paid to their respective county governments. After a long day at work, the trader passes by their local shop or supermarket to purchase some necessities which are obviously taxed. Essentially, you can’t escape paying taxes in this country which would not be a problem if our monies were utilized for the intended purposes.
Our government operates on the taxes that we pay, and I believe every shilling counts to the taxman’s bottom line. As such, this loss of taxes will have an effect given that the economy has been badly dented due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
We live in a world that is heavily polluted and which has caused global warming, the effects of which can be seen in the changing of the weather patterns in recent years. As such, we are called upon to do our part in reducing the pollution by reusing and recycling items.
The purchase of second-hand clothes and shoes is part of the cycle of reusing items which would have otherwise been disposed in dumpsite thus leading to pollution of the environment. So, do not let anyone shame you while doing your part to protect the environment.